The word "
epistle" is from the Greek word "epistolos" which means a written "letter" addressed to a recipient or recipients, perhaps part of exchanged correspondence. Nowadays this term is usually used in connection with a specific group of books in the New Testamentthat either were letters or were written in that literary form. "Epistle" is also used to refer to other letters, such as a bishop's open letterto the congregants of his see. Referring to more commonplace letters as epistles is a rather pretentious use of language, but not incorrect. In particular an " epistolary novel" or story is told in the form of a series of letters.
New Testament epistles
There are epistles that are written to particular areas, and general epistles that are written to groups or communities. Taking at face value the traditional ascription of epistles to their superscribed authors, Paul wrote more epistles to particular churches, as well as personal letters to
Timothy, Philemon, and Titus. Peter was the author of his own, John was the author of his own, James was the author of his own, Jude was the author of his own. Sometimes Paul's epistles are divided into subgroups. For instance, the "prison epistles" are the ones written by Paul while he was in prison, while the "pastoral epistles" are the letters to Timothy and Titus, since they contain advice about providing pastoral care to their churches.
Questions of historical authorship or of date and authenticity are addressed in the entries to individual Epistles. Usually the Epistles of the
New TestamentCanon are divided as follows: Pauline Epistlesas written by Paul:
Epistle to the Romans
First Epistle to the Corinthians
Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Epistle to the Galatians
Epistle to the Ephesians
Epistle to the Philippians
Epistle to the Colossians
First Epistle to the Thessalonians
Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
First Epistle to Timothy
Second Epistle to Timothy
Epistle to Titus
Epistle to Philemon
General (or "catholic") epistles
Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle of James
First Epistle of Peter
Second Epistle of Peter
First Epistle of John
Second Epistle of John
Third Epistle of John
Epistle of Jude
Revelation of John(also an Apocalypse)
The authorship of many of these epistles is contested by the majority of modern scholars and historians. In particular, with respect to the
authorship of the Pauline epistles, the pastoral epistlesare rejected by two thirds of modern academicsFact|date=February 2007, and only seven of the Pauline epistles are regarded as uncontested. The epistles of John are also questioned.
Non canonical epistles
Epistle to Seneca the Younger
Third Epistle to the Corinthians(canonical for a time in the Armenian Orthodox)
Epistle to the Laodiceans(found in Codex Fuldensis)
Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul(addressed to Paul, not written by him)
Letter of Peter to Philip
* The first Epistle to Corinth [Also called "A Prior Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians" [http://www.icwseminary.org/lostbooks.htm] or "Paul’s previous Corinthian letter". [http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/42] , possibly
Third Epistle to the Corinthians] "referenced at bibleverse|1|Corinthians|5:9
*The third Epistle to Corinth called
Severe Letter"referenced at bibleverse|2|Corinthians|2:4 and bibleverse|2|Corinthians|7:8-9
* The Corinthian letter to Paul "referenced at bibleverse|1|Corinthians|7:1"
*The Earlier Epistle to the Ephesians "referenced at bibleref|Ephesians|3:3-4"
Epistle to the Laodiceans"referenced at bibleref|Colossians|4:16"
* The Earlier Epistle of Jude [Also called "2 Jude".] "referenced atbibleref|Jude|1:3"
* The Earlier Epistle of John [Also called "The Epistle of John to the Church Ruled by Diotrephes" [http://www.icwseminary.org/lostbooks.htm] ] "referenced atbibleref|3John|1:9"
These are letters written by some very early Christian leaders, in the first or second century, which are not part of the New Testament. They are generally considered to form part of the basis of Christian tradition. The ennobling word "epistle" is used partly because these were all written in Greek, in a time period close to when the epistles of the New Testament were written, and thus "epistle" lends additional weight of authority.
* Epistle of the Romans to the Corinthians (1 Clement) [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm]
* Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm]
* Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm]
Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians[http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0106.htm]
* Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm]
* Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0108.htm]
Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans[http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm]
* Epistle of Ignatius to
Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians[http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm]
Epistle of Barnabas[http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0124.htm]
Epistle to Diognetus
Acts of the Apostles (genre)
List of Gospels
List of New Testament papyri
New Testament apocrypha
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05509a.htm "Catholic Encyclopedia"] : Epistles
* [http://www.bts.edu/faculty/Publications/AncientLetterCollections.htm David Trobisch, "How to read an ancient letter collection", 1999] : the possibility of a narrative critical study of the Letters of Paul
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Epistles — The apostolic letters. The New Testament contains twenty one in all. They are divided into two classes. 1) Paul s Epistles, fourteen in number, including Hebrews. These are not arranged in the New Testament in the order of time as to their… … Easton's Bible Dictionary
epistles — Traditionally, as in AV, twenty one of the NT documents have been entitled ‘epistles’, though modern translations prefer ‘letters’. The sense in which they are letters has been much discussed. For generations, they were regarded primarily as… … Dictionary of the Bible
epistles — eÂ·pisÂ·tle || Éª pÉªsl n. long formal letter, missive … English contemporary dictionary
Epistles to Timothy and Titus — Epistles to Timothy and Titus † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistles to Timothy and Titus (THE PASTORALS) STS. TIMOTHY AND TITUS Saints Timothy and Titus were two of the most beloved and trusted disciples of St. Paul, whom they… … Catholic encyclopedia
Epistles to the Corinthians — Epistles to the Corinthians † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistles to the Corinthians INTRODUCTORY St. Paul Founds the Church at Corinth St. Paul s first visit to Europe is graphically described by St. Luke (Acts, xvi xviii). When … Catholic encyclopedia
Epistles of Saint Peter — Epistles of Saint Peter † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistles of Saint Peter These two epistles will be treated under the following heads: I. Authenticity; II. Recipients, occasion, and object; III. Date and place of composition; IV.… … Catholic encyclopedia
Epistles to the Thessalonians — Epistles to the Thessalonians † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistles to the Thessalonians Two of the canonical Epistles of St. Paul. This article will treat the Church of Thessalonica, the authenticity, canonicity, time and place of… … Catholic encyclopedia
Epistles of Saint John — Epistles of Saint John † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistles of Saint John Three canonical books of the New Testament written by the Apostle St. John. The subject will be treated under the following heads: FIRST EPISTLE I.… … Catholic encyclopedia
Epistles of Fredman — (Swedish: Fredmans epistlar) is a collection of poems and songs by 18th century author Carl Michael Bellman. It contains 82 works created over a period of twenty years. Many of the songs have remained culturally significant in Scandinavia,… … Wikipedia
Epistles of Wisdom — The Epistles of Wisdom Rasa il al hikma رسـائـل الـحـكـمـة … Wikipedia